About Avi Schaefer

Avi Schaefer, z''l, was born June 11, 1988 to Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer and artist Laurie Gross. Avi was raised in a loving Jewish home in Santa Barbara, California, with his brothers Noah, Yoav, and Elisha.  At age 18, Avi and his identical twin Yoav volunteered to serve as combat soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.  Avi served in the army for three years, first as a soldier in a special forces unit and later going on to train some of Israel's most elite units as a counter-terrorism instructor.  Upon completion of his army service, Avi returned to the United States to begin his studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

In his few months at Brown Avi quickly distinguished himself as an accomplished student and a trusted voice for Israel and for peace.  Avi gracefully balanced his two passions, championing the Jewish state while simultaneously establishing deep lines of communication with students who held differing perspectives.  His life and work were tragically cut short on February 12, 2010, when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver while walking near campus.  In just 21 years, Avi became a living testament to the idea that one committed individual can truly make a difference.  His example leaves an indelible mark on this world in the lives of the people who knew him, and the thousands more inspired by his legacy of activism and compassion.  It is now the task of his family and friends to carry on the work he began.

Remembering Avi »

Updates From The Fund

  • 2015 Avi Shabbat and Innovation Grants Program

    L'shanah tova! We hope your school year is off to a great start!

    We are excited to announce the 2015 Avi Shabbat and Innovation Grants Program.

    We are in our fifth year of our Avi Shabbat program, with campuses across the US and Canada hosting and celebrating together. For those campuses that have participated with us in the past, thank you for your participation and feedback. Apply today and stay tuned for new online resources.

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  • Celebrate Our Growth Open House 2014

    Thank you to everyone who joined us in Santa Barbara at the Gross Schaefer home for our annual "Celebrate Our Growth Open House". The crowd of about 250 people enjoyed a beautiful day of community, support, and conversation. In the midst of the ongoing heartbreak and violence in the Middle East, the work of ASF and the opportunity to gather as a community are now more important than ever. Thank you to all our supporters who help make our work possible. Sunday's gathering was an important way to share time together and bring more healing energy into the world.

  • Yoav Schaefer Honored as a Do-er

    Yoav Schaefer has been honored as a "Do-er" — a group of young Jewish people working hard to change their communities — for his efforts to promote peace with the Avi Schaefer Fund.